David and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary yesterday… which is so hard to believe.
In some ways it feels like we’ve been married for FOREVER, and in other ways it feels like we’ve been married for five minutes.
We’ve definitely done a lot in our 10 years: a few job switches, a master’s degree, a trip to Europe, a big move, 3 (soon to be 4) kids. We’ve also experienced heartbreak, struggles, arguments, happy times, times of overwhelm… so, so much.
I’m actually tearing up right now thinking of everything we’ve gone through (it could be the pregnancy hormones though ha!), but I can honestly say that with everything we’ve gone through where we’re at now is so much better than it was 10 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong… things look a lot different now than they did then, but I wouldn’t trade our 10 years of experiences for what we had when we first started.
SO. In honor of 10 years of marriage, I thought I would share 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years of marriage:
- Let the little things go. You both come from different backgrounds, and were raised with different values. You’re not going to do everything the same or have the same priorities and that’s okay. If you do dishes differently, that’s okay. Don’t try to make your spouse adapt to your way of washing dishes… let him do him when it’s his turn, and you do you when it’s your turn. The sooner you can accept that you’ll do trivial house things differently and move on the better. Fight about the big things, and save your energy when it comes to the proper way to load a toilet paper roll.
- Be willing to pick up the dirty towels because it really is NOT all about you. In other words, your spouse will have annoying habits. They just will… don’t be surprised by it, and don’t take it personally. It’s not about you I promise, they aren’t doing it to “get” to you. It’s literally just an annoying habit, and for every one that they have, you probably make up for it 10 fold with your own. Give grace to receive grace.
- Give each other space. This applies to a lot of different areas, but if you’ve had an especially tough conversation, give each other space to process before expecting a conclusion. Give each other space to hang out with other friends… give each other space to pursue personal hobbies. If you’re both home, but you’re not spending time together that’s OKAY. Time together is important, but so is time apart.
- The first year after a baby is HARD. You’ll be tired, you’ll be mentally exhausted, you’ll be unable to handle things you can normally handle. Don’t give up on each other… it will get better I promise. If you’re fighting a lot, and picking at each other constantly don’t assume you’ll always be in that space because you won’t. As best as you are able give each other grace, but if you’re not succeeding at doing that try to step out of your emotions long enough to remind yourself that grace IS coming. Soon you’ll be getting sleep, soon your newborn won’t be so reliant on you, and soon you’ll be able to offer more to each other.
- And speaking of, conflict is good. Engage in it. Be willing to tell your spouse what you want. Don’t be that person who expects your spouse to just somehow (magically) know what you’re thinking. Learn each other’s communication styles and try to see past how you feel they are communicating. It’s easy to project your own feelings and emotions into your spouse, but try to remember that you communicate differently. And do what you need to, to address issues in a healthy way. It took us 10 years to figure out that when it comes to finances we communicate better through e-mails. It takes the emotional charge out of the conversation and we can think before we speak. Do what works for YOU and not what works for other couples.
- Put your spouse first, but don’t feel like you’re failing if the kids come first. At the same time, make conscious decisions that will make it easier for your spouse to come first EVENTUALLY. Even if you can only spend 5 minutes a week spending solo time together NOW, do it so that when you can spend one night a week together LATER it comes naturally.
- Support each other often, and try not to complain about each other to your friends. Be each other’s biggest fans. Have those girlfriends you can go to for advice, but don’t fall into the habit of just complaining about your spouse because it makes you feel better. It’s a temporary relief I promise. The long term result is a feeling of bitterness towards your spouse that will linger. Focus on what each other is doing RIGHT, and you’ll notice those things a lot more.
- Learn each other’s love language and do your best to speak it.. but give each other grace to fail. Remember that if you have a different love language to your spouse, they won’t always remember to speak love to you in the way you receive it. Hint: it’s because they are human. And give them time to get better at speaking your love language because they will with time (sometimes you have to lovingly remind them, and that’s okay too… communication right?!).
- Prioritize sex. It doesn’t always have to be romantic, so get over that idea real quick (especially when your kids come along). Sometimes you do it just because you know it’s what’s best for your marriage. Ignore the idea that there is a magic number of how many times you should be doing it per week, but check in with each other often and try to get on the same page (which sometimes means compromising.)
- And finally: lower your expectations. Your spouse is human. They are going to mess up. They WILL fail you, hurt you, disappoint you, make you wonder what you were thinking in marrying them. But remember that you’ve failed them, hurt them, disappointed them as well. You can’t be in a long term relationship with someone without being disappointed at some point. Stop expecting them to ALWAYS get it right because they won’t. And give them room to grow. You won’t be married to the same person that you were ten years earlier. People grow, they change, interests evolve, emotional growth happens. Grow together, but give your spouse the space (and permission) to grow.
I could keep going. 10 years is a long time, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more in the next 10 years. But I hope this list helps you… especially if you’re just starting out.
We’ll probably just go to Qdoba (David’s favorite… definitely not mine, but compromise right!?) with our girls, but it’s like I said above… just because things aren’t romantic NOW doesn’t mean they won’t be someday.
*our wedding photos were done by Matt Lien